Creative blocks show up for me in different ways:
- I’m looking at an intimidating project, feeling stuck, not knowing what to do next…
- I’m planning my content and no ideas are coming to me immediately about what I should blog or make a video about…
- In trying to solve a problem in my business, I’m drawing a blank for possible solutions…
Maybe you can relate to one or more of these situations.
Here are 5 ways I get unstuck and into a creative flow:
1. When I move my body, I move my brain.
Mental stuckness starts to dissolve, as I simply get up from my desk and walk around the room.
If not too cold, I’ll step outside for a minute and stretch, and take a few deep breaths. By the time I step back in, I have newfound energy.
Touching and moving physical objects can also help stoke creativity. The simplest way is puttering — cleaning up a bit. Some people swear by doing a physical puzzle, or taking a few minutes to work on building a model (airplane, toy, etc.)
If I’m really stuck, then I need to really move. Going outside and walking around the block helps a lot. Even more “extreme” (and healthier) would be to walk to the park, sit for a little while, and walk back. All the while, I let the project or problem roll around in my mind, not trying “hard” to figure it out, but simply being open to any ideas that arise. I write down ideas as quickly as I can into my phone.
I think of every project as stages or versions.
Nothing I work on is perfect. I’m always just working on the next version, knowing that I can always improve and create another version in the future, and that it’ll just get better, version by version.
The most important thing is to go ahead and publish/post/complete this version.
I apply this to both big and small projects.
I’ve now published 2 books (Authentic Content Marketing, and Joyful Productivity) — and I consider them to be the first edition. I’m already thinking about 2nd editions of those books to be published in the next few years.
A smaller example: this blog post is just version 1. If it seems helpful to people, I’ll edit it some more and make it version 2 and put it on my own website.
Truly there’s no such thing as failure. There’s only “this version” and the desire to improve the next version. Mistakes are a clear feedback of what I can do differently/better next time.
3. Temporary Constraints
The basic idea is to ask myself “If I could only work on 3 things, what must it be?”
If I’m trying to come up with blog ideas: “If I could only blog about 3 things, what must those be?”
When writing the blog itself: “If I could only talk about 3 things about this topic, what must those be?”
If stuck on a problem: “If there were 3 possible solutions to this problem, what might those 3 be?”
If procrastinating due to lack of clarity: “What are the next 3 simple steps I can definitely take?”
Read more about temporary constraints here: https://www.georgekao.com/blog/overwhelmed
4. Rhythm of Creation
This is how I get into creative flow and stay there. I schedule a rhythm of creativity for myself.
Primarily it’s three things:
- My schedule of content creation.
- My schedule of upcoming courses.
- My schedule of book publications: every March and August.
The key is to sticking to it. The way I stick to it is to have public accountability: I let you (my audience) know about my schedule, so that I know you’re expecting my new output, by when.
There are other ways to stick to a rhythm. See my 7 motivational methods here: https://www.georgekao.com/blog/motivationalmethods
We often forget that being stuck or not creative has a lot to do with “being in our own heads” and one of the best ways to get out of that is to be in conversation with somebody you trust.
If you can, hire a life coach or therapist (you probably know one already — just ask around) who are specialists in helping clients get unstuck and back into flow.
If you can’t, then reach out to a friend or colleague to schedule a call. Ask them to help you get unstuck by asking you questions about the project or problem at hand. As you answer their questions, your creativity will be opened again. Be sure to take notes, or record the call.
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